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How Much Does Staining & Sealing a Deck Cost?

Deck Staining & Stealing Prices

The regular application of stain and sealant to your deck will keep it looking great for years to come. This buying guide breaks down the basics of staining and sealing and puts you in touch with local contractors who can take care of all your deck maintenance needs.

Deck Staining vs. Deck Sealing

Before you start making plans to stain and seal your deck, it's important to point out the differences between the two. Sealer is a product intended to protect a deck from its number one enemy: water. Clear sealers have no color and allow the wood's natural grain and color to show. Another option, tinted sealer, adds color to the wood but the grain will still be prominent. Tinted sealers, unlike clear sealers, also offer protection from the sun's UV rays.

Stains are primarily intended to change the color of wood. Although they do offer some protection from the elements, stains are not intended to take the place of sealant. Even if you stain your deck, sealant should still be applied for maximum water and, in some cases, UV protection.

Some professionals advise against staining horizontal deck surfaces because cracking and peeling occurs very quickly (due to the extreme exposure of a deck floor). You might consider a two-tone deck that has stained railings and a sealed floor. If you do decide to stain your deck floor, resealing it every year or two will help to protect the finish (even if you don't stain your deck, sealant should be applied yearly or every other year).

What's Involved With Sealing and Staining a Deck

To determine whether your deck needs a new coat of sealer, perform a test by sprinkling water on the floor. If the water beads, you probably don't need to reseal right away. Water that immediately absorbs into the wood, however, indicates resealing is necessary.

A new coat of sealant can be applied directly on top of the old coat(s). Before reapplying sealer, however, the deck should first be cleaned of dirt and debris. Various cleaning solutions, including those containing bleach and acid, are used to eliminate discoloration (from water damage) and stains. After spraying away the cleaners with a hose or pressure washer, the sealant can be reapplied. There is no limit on the number of coats of sealant that can be applied atop one another, but a deck that is severely weather damaged, stained, or scratched may need to have the top layer of wood stripped before new sealant is applied.

Stripping is also necessary when applying a new coat of stain to a deck, as the sealant creates a waxy barrier that the finish can't penetrate. Pressure washing or sandblasting will expose bare wood, to which the new stain can be applied. Sealing is performed after the staining.

(Note that if you have a brand new pressure treated deck, it should be allowed to weather for six months to a year before sealing).

Deck Staining and Sealing Costs

  • Hiring a professional to clean, stain, and reseal an average size (approximately 250 square foot) deck costs $700 to $1,000. Depending on the size and layout of your deck, actual costs could be less than $500 or $1,500 and up.
  • For sealing alone on a 250 square foot deck, expect to pay $300 to $400. Staining a deck of the same size might cost $400 to $600. Again, expect costs to rise for larger decks.
  • A gallon of deck stain or sealant costs $25 to $40. To seal a 250 square foot deck, plan on using two gallons ($50 to $80), plus assorted brushes, buckets, and rollers ($20 to $40) for a total materials cost of roughly $75 to $150. Staining the same deck might require as many as three to six gallons of stain ($75 to $240).

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